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Poll: New debate on concessionary fares in Suffolk

09:01 04 December 2012

Bus passes up for debate

Bus passes up for debate

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2010

COUNTY councillors are set to reconsider Suffolk’s concessionary fares scheme at next week’s cabinet meeting.

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They are to consider bringing forward the start time for free travel for those who qualify on age grounds from 9.30am to 9am – a move that officials say could cost between £144,000 and £180,000 a year.

But a more major change is being examined for those who qualify for free travel on grounds of disability.

One option is to remove the time limit altogether for this – officials estimate the cost would be somewhere between £71,000 and £345,000 a year. The cabinet is being given a free vote on the options – there is no recommended choice for them.

Another option on the agenda is increasing the value of travel vouchers for those who are not able to use free travel passes from £50 a year to £100 – but this was already agreed earlier in the year and there would be an outcry if it was reversed.

Cabinet member with responsibility for transport Guy McGregor said the issues would have to be properly debated.

He said: “We only have a limited amount of money in the budget, and if we increase the amount for one service then we have to lose it for another.

“The figures have to be carefully weighed – and we are giving cabinet members the opportunity to consider the issue for themselves.”

The issue that is likely to cause most soul-searching is the likely cost of allowing those with free travel on account of disability to travel at any time.

The difficulty in estimating the cost of this change makes it very difficult for councillors to predict the likely cost of such a change to the system.

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